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Ariel Utnik, COO & GM at Verbit – Interview Series

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Ariel Utnik, is the COO and GM at Verbit, a leading AI-powered transcription and captioning solution.

What are some of the services that are currently offered by Verbit?

Verbit offers an AI-powered transcription and captioning platform, providing accurate, word-for-word transcripts and captions for education, legal, media, corporate, and general business markets.

Verbit also offers Audio Description to help vision-impaired or low vision audiences and Audio-Visual Translation to serve the needs of international audiences and help content creators expand their reach. Additionally, we provide live integrations with major LMS, web-conferencing, and media hosting platforms.

Verbit’s solution offers accuracy, scale, and customization that professionals and students depend on for ADA, FCC, and other privacy compliance such as GDPR, HIPAA, VPAT, SOC2, and others.

Users of our platform are provided with domain expertise, top technology, 24/7 support, and a tailor-made solution for individual customer needs. As a result, businesses, legal agencies, and universities can increase operational capacity, provide accessibility, and serve more clients and students.

Could you discuss some of the machine learning technologies that are used?

Verbit’s transcription and captioning platform leverages a unique hybrid model of AI – specifically machine learning and natural language processing – combined with a network of over 30,000 professional transcribers to achieve over 99% accuracy and a turnaround time that is ten times faster than the industry standard.

Verbit’s in-house AI technology detects domain-specific terms, filters out background noise and echoes, and transcribes speakers regardless of accent to generate detailed, professional transcripts and captions from both live and recorded video and audio.

Acoustic, linguistic, and contextual data is thoroughly checked by our transcribers, who maintain quality assurance, ensure high accuracy, and guarantee rapid turnaround time by editing and reviewing the material, as well as incorporating customer-supplied notes, guidelines, specific industry terms and requirements, and more.

How do human transcribers enhance automated AI transcribing?

At Verbit, we’ve uncovered a winning combination of AI and HI (human intelligence) which makes for a strong, near-perfect transcription end product that delivers 99%+ transcription accuracy. We’ve developed an online collaborative transcription platform where multiple transcribers come together to simultaneously review and fine-tune AI-generated transcripts. While the AI component is fast and learns from its mistakes through self-learning algorithms within minutes, it also excels when exposed to repetitive functions. Human transcribers are needed in order to grasp the context, understand heavy accents and low audio quality.

Currently, multiple transcribers come together to simultaneously review and fine-tune AI-generated transcriptions. Could you discuss how this process works?

First, our in-house Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology automatically transcribes the audio or video file uploaded by our customers. The acoustic, linguistic, and contextual data models support this machine learning process to produce near-perfect transcripts. It is then reviewed by professional human transcribers, proofreaders, and editors to ensure high quality and accuracy of the final transcript.

Are there plans for Verbit to eventually become less reliant on human reviewers?

No, human transcribers – as part of our unique hybrid model – play and will continue to play an essential role in the success of our solution. Our team has worked incredibly hard to support our customers across the globe who had to go through seemingly impossible changes overnight when lockdowns hit. Verbit’s employees and network of over 30,000 professional transcribers were the ones who made these shifts a success for our customers.

Verbit recently acquired VITAC, the largest provider of captioning products and solutions in North America, what does this mean for the future of the company?

Being able to enter the global media sector is a major milestone for Verbit, as we’re now able to service all broadcast companies and cable networks. This includes Fox, CNBC, CNN, Bravo, E!, and other media conglomerates – all of which are customers of VITAC and now of the combined company. These big media institutions have unique needs in regards to live captioning, and we’re excited to be able to provide them with our innovative technology that allows them to address those needs more efficiently.

Additionally, the overall transcription market is ripe for innovation and in need of advanced AI technology to scale businesses. By combining VITAC’s deep and long-standing industry expertise with Verbit’s advanced technology, we have a tremendous opportunity to provide more innovative technology-based products to more markets.

What are some ways that AI can make content more accessible and inclusive (e.g. for those with hearing impairment)?

The pandemic has created major changes in how we work and also how we consume media. Many more people are using captioning as they multi-screen or watch content at accelerated speeds. People have become used to captioning as a way to better understand and follow what they’re watching, and overall, companies have recognized the importance of making content more accessible and inclusive. AI-driven speech-to-text tools – like Verbit’s – can help with this. In today’s digital era where audio and video content is a given, and many times the main method of conveying information, these AI tools are crucial to ensure that individuals and organizations of all sizes and forms can engage with their audiences and stakeholders more efficiently and effectively.

For example, Audio Description helps vision-impaired or low-vision audiences better experience and understand the content and information they are watching. For the education sector, for example, Verbit utilizes professional transcribers to offer concise, accurate descriptions of everything shown in class so that visually impaired or low vision students have equal opportunities to participate. This increases their level of engagement in class and improves overall learning results.

Verbit’s AI-driven transcription platform powers a world where all media shared in classrooms, workplaces, and online platforms is inclusive and accessible to all.

Could you discuss the future of AI in the legal field and how the industry will shift towards digital court reporting?

Although courts and law firms have been using digital court reporters for decades to keep records of depositions and other proceedings, there is still a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and hesitation around adopting new technologies like AI in the legal space, leading to innovation being stagnant.

However, as the pandemic forced many court sessions and depositions online and created a backlog of legal proceedings due to many disruptions, digital innovation that can help increase productivity and efficiency is now more critical – and more in demand – than ever. Digital solutions are on the rise, especially regarding depositions, and are expected to more than double in 3 years.

There has also been an increased demand for technology to support court reporting as the number of courtroom stenographers decreases each year due to an aging workforce, limited new entrants, and an expected gap of 11,000 stenographers by 2023.

Those who are not adopting hybrid models and new technologies to make legal procedures and processes more efficient and cost-effective will get left behind in today’s digital era. AI-driven solutions are faster, accurate, cost-effective, and scalable than current manual processes. Verbit is the leading digital solution on the market for legal proceedings, providing customers with live, customized, and verbatim transcriptions with readbacks, text search, rough drafts, and in-audio search capabilities.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Verbit?

Overall, the transcription industry is a $30 billion market that has immense potential for innovative technology like Verbit’s. Most industries still use manual processes for transcriptions that are highly inefficient and costly, and there is a huge opportunity for us to modernize these verticals with our AI-driven solution. While technology has made a big difference in the industry, especially during the pandemic, we believe that this is only the beginning and we’re excited to continue to innovate and further improve the transcription and captioning arena.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Verbit.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.